Boomer Entitlement Mess???
Barkley Rosser at Econospeak takes aim at immigration and worker ratios:
Robert Reich says so, “Why More Immigrants Are An Answer to the Coming Boomer Entitlement Mess“, which is also linked to by Mark Thoma. He has been on the Social Security Advisory board and has heard all the tales of coming Demographic Doom due to the impending wave of boomer retirements, even though the adjustments due to the Greenspan Commission in the early 80s were supposed to pay for the boomers’ retirements. This year the fund is running a (small) deficit, and so out of all the sources of the broader federal budget deficit (of which rising medical care costs, not to mention high defense budgets) it is social security that is the Big Problem that Something Must Be Done About (along with Medicare). I would agree that more immigrants will help in the short run, but demography is not the main problem here.
I and Bruce Webb have posted only about a million times in the past here and elsewhere on how if the “optimistic” projection of the SSA were to hold, the system would never run a deficit. In many recent years the economy beat that projection. However, in the last few it has plunged far below the pessimistic forecast with fica revenues collapsing as employment has collapsed in the Great Recession. This is the problem, and the simple solution is to get the economy and employment growing again at something like the optimistic forecast rate. Then the system will go back into surplus, possibly even mostly staying there, without any fiddling with or opening the doors to massive immigration (and, no, I am not anti-immigrant at all here, just trying to be clear about what is what).
Indeed, the fallaciousness of this general demographic hysteria is seen in that the US has among the best demographics for this even with low immigration compared with other OECD economies. Germany (and others) have the age distributions the US will have in 2030 when we hear Doom will hit, and they are paying their pensions all right, with Germany’s even higher than the ones here. Really, folks, higher immigration may be an OK thing, but it is relatively peripheral to the condition of the Social Security system. Growing the economy and particularly employment is the key to saving the system.
“simple solution is to get the economy and employment growing”
OK, then, lets get 100 million Amderican workers doing this simple thing you speak of.
Yes god knows I’m ready for a simple solution. These other ones don’t seem to be doing much.
Just a question for the pros.
Where I live illegals have a big presence. I have got to know a number of them and their families. All of these people were working long hours prior to 2008. Employers took SS #s that were fake from these people. Employers did not care. If they had a number they were safe.
So for may years SS collected revenues from people who are not going to be able to get benfits.
In 2009 the unemployment rate for the illegals just exploded. 50% in my area. Contruction stopped and all those home improvement projects stopped. Many of the illegals left. They went back to Ecuador.
Some numbers. There were estimates of 12mm illegals in the country a few years ago. A very high percentage of those were working. They were “on the books” and contributing to SS. Say 8mm out of the 12mm were at the meat backing plant and paying into SS.
Take a number of 40K as compensation and you get a number of $38b in SS revenues.
I would guess at the range of this as $25-45B. Of interest. About half of that may be gone.
Any thoughts on this?
A bear can be angry. Funny.
The 2 largest influxes of immigrants were followed by the 2 periods of the highest unemployment. From 1900 to 1917 14 million + immigrants came and by 1921 real wages began to fall. By 1929 71% of the population lived below poverty and of course everyone knows what occurred in 1929.
The other large influx began of with The Immigration Act of 1965. This increased the population more slowly in percentage terms although wages followed a very similar trend line to that of the 1920s but over a longer period of time. Now, unemployment among those without a high-school diploma is above 15%, among college grads the unemployment rate is about 5%. Among those with high-school degrees the unemployment rate is about 10%.
On January 1, 1919 the Wilson administration ceased all wartime production and that act flooded the labor markets with war-related workers just as soldiers were also entering the workforce by the ship-load.
There were 3,600 labor strikes during 1919 but the vast and abrupt oversupply of labor made these strikes futile and by 1921 the problem of labor strikes was weakened further by the infamous ‘yellow dog’ union busting campaign. Wages remained stagnant throughout the 1920s even though the economy seemed to be booming (sound familiar?). It is worth repeating that by 1929, before the crash, poverty reached 71%.
So, considering the unemployment rate among those without college degrees, and that the US has vast numbers of disenfranchised citizens who are typically also under-educated and who ‘should’ be competing for those same jobs available to immigrants, as would those in the 15% cohort be, it is difficult to foresee a time when increased immigration would be wise. Unless of course the wars are to continue indefinitely. The lesson of 1919 being that large influxes of immigrants make it very difficult to cut military spending, which is a problem that exists now even without increasing the numbers of those who are currently being allowed in — whether legally or otherwise.
Professor Rosser is correct.
If I take issue with him it is because I think that paying too much attention to the Life and Death of the Trust Fund is a fundamental error.
Social Security is supposed to be self supporting by a pay as you go payroll tax. The existense of the expanded Trust Fund is entirely legitimate and understandable, but its very existence has caused people to confuse its fortunes with those of Social Security.
The purpose of the Trust Fund… any trust fund… is to save money so as to be able to provide money to the owner at need. In the case of Social Security that need would ordinarily be the very short term fluctuations in tax collections and benefit payments that the Trust Fund would be used to smooth over.. like an ordinary checking account. The Trust Fund is allowed to grow somewhat larger than needed for the monthly fluctuations to provide a reserve to help Social Security pay promised benefits over a time of economic recession when taxes collected might not be enough to cover the benefits. This is what is happening now. An even larger Trust Fund has been considered for some time (pace Bruce) to have been a wise way to prepare for the forseeable retirement of the Baby Boom, and alleviate a potential “generational inequity” caused by the demographics (remember Cheney and his “iron law of demographics” nonsense) of that boom. We are now entering that forseen time when the Trust Fund would be drawn down to help pay for the Boomers retirement… please remember that the Boomers have been paying “excess” payroll taxes (more than needed for pay as you go) so that they prepaid for their own retirement. The Trust Fund is giving them their own money back… as designed.
Now it may be that economic trends could cause the Trust Fund to be paid down (go broke as Bush liked to say) sooner rather than later. Or it could happen that the Trust Fund could last longer than expected (it already has) and be paid down later rather than sooner, or, even, never be paid down at all… and this would be a more troublesome consequence than “sooner.”
The point is that none of this matters. It lasts forever, it is paid down in 2036 or 2050, or 2012. All that happens is that Social Security returns to pay as you go with a small adjustment in the payroll tax that no sane person would even notice.
Unfortunately since Bush and Peterson and half the known world talk about the Trust Fund as if it were a matter of the Life and Death of Social Security, we have to talk about it too.
But we would be much better off if we could understand that fundamentally the Trust Fund is not important.
And that there are no conceivable circumstances where paying for Social Security, pay as you go, out of the paychecks of working people would become a ‘burden’ let alone more than a working person would ordinarily have to “save” to pay for his own retirement. The virtue of Social Security is that it guarantees those savings won’t be lost to inflation, market losses, or personal bad luck or imprudence.
If enough people understood that, the Social Security “problem” would disappear.
Definitley a problem with the economists’ view that “make a baby” or “adopt an immigrant” creates a job. Many micro-economists have shown that low wage earners consume more in government services (primarily at local level) than they ever pay in taxes.
Then in CA they recently announced 2/3rds of the prision immate population is illegal immigrants. The annual cost in CA is $50K per guest.
The numbers don’t work. (except for our esteemed small biz owners who pocketed the payroll tax)
i think Cedric and Love are on the right track. There is no reason to get hysterical about the “demographics.” A smaller number of workers are just as likely to be making more money… indeed, if one looks at the Trustees Report carefully, one can see that a big part of the “problem” is that workers are projected to be making a much smaller percent of GDP than they are today. Part of this is a tax dodge effect they don’t talk about much. But more of it is, I guess, that they plan to continue the march to low wages. Hard to think they would need immigrant labor to accomplish that when it is so easy to get cheap foreign labor and save taxes without bothering to import their bodies here.
and now this elderly retired farmer has to go out and weed his fields by hand because he can’t afford even cheap immigrant labor and all his sons are off in Wall Street “making” money.
[please understand this is a parable… i have no sons… but if i did they’d be making paper money like all the other smart boys in the country. their problem will come when they sit down and try to eat that paper money.]
…sounds like another customer for ‘Round-Up Ready’ farming.
probably you and i are the only ones here who know what that means. my round up is a spade and a pair of leather gloves, but i am beginning to see the point of chemicals.
The black death created higher wages and the renaissance.
Less people meant higher wages.
Higher wages led to a cultural boom we enjoy to this day.
Having less workers and more demand might make a better situation.
Mexico and their buddies need to deal with their own problems.
Just as citizens are suffering from the rise of the old South, the American plutocracy (our Fed Chairman is an Old South guy), the potential immigrants are also suffering. Now is not the time to liberalize immigration. Reich’s solution has a life in the future, perhaps.
Until we put a stop on the free lunch afforded imports, this country is in no position to liberalize immigration and the competition with out-of-work American worker.
WTF is wrong with our (American) thinking. The unemploment rate is nearly 10 %. The wages of American workers have been stagnant for 30 years. The minimum wage is < $8 per hour. Get caught transgressing on the intersection by the brother-in-law's cameras, and your kids don't eat, Welcome to the Confederacy.
Barkley Rosser: “This is the problem, and the simple solution is to get the economy and employment growing again at something like the optimistic forecast rate.”
The simple solution ?
Okay, I’m game. Let’s construct a scenario that might work.
Energy self sufficincy ?
Country by country Trade laws that limit the balance of payments ?
Repeal the Bush Tax Cuts ?
A 50% reduction in the Defence Budget ?
Single payer health care ?
Extinguish Sallie May ?
Prevent the Ivy League Monopoly ?
Com’on professor, help me out here.
My Notes to Reich:
I agree immigration is a partial answer to the nation’s problem with an aging population and so far it has been working as evidenced with a US median age of ~36. Replacement rate for couples has been 2.05 to date and most of this is because of immigration. As Joel Garreau in “300 Million and Counting” aptly points out there is strong likelihood of new immigrants initially and one generation later to have more children at least until they begin to blend into the US melting pot and have achieved affluence and education. We are not having the same issues in the US that is being experienced in Europe in such places as Russia, Italy and Spain (1.3), Hong Kong (.96), Macau (.84), etc. The US population is growing at 1% per year or the ~ size of 1 metropolitan Chicago annually largely due to legal immigrants. The US has the largest population of legal immigrants globally. And yet with 300+ million citizens, we occupy 5-6% of the land mass of the US and mostly in the wrong places.
Since 2001 Robert, we have seen Participation Rate drop from 66.7% at the end of the 2001 Recession to a low of 64.5% recently. After 40 years of trending upwards, this downward trend of the numbers of the Civilian Non-Institutional Population in the Civilian Labor Force is very disturbing and reflective of too little job creation. Past and present government and private policy have not been kind to Labor and the BLS numbers, such as Participation Rate, aptly reflect it. Job Creation has not exceeded or consistently exceeded the growth of the population coming of age and able to work in the Civilian Labor Force. To suggest greater immigration when job creation has been mediocre at best and we have the largest number of people unemployed and in Not In Labor Force would only worsen the problem and add to the already burdensome infrastructure cost showing up in deficits today. Immigrants need jobs and opportunity to come to when they arrive on the US shores and quite frankly Robert the US does not have them at present and probably not for years to come.
The same problem exists for Social Security. With the fall off in the Civilian Labor Force, the nation suffers from diminished Federal and Payroll Withholding Tax revenue which is reflected in the projections of the CBO and other places as well. It is here that I begin to not understand yours and the President’s pitch on cuts in Social Security benefits and also Medicare which has had a lower increase in costs than private healthcare. Does it make sense to cut SS benefits when outlays have exceeded revenues only because the numbers of Unemployed and the numbers of workers inactive (Not In Labor Force) have increased due to no jobs available and low job creation? For these minor lapses in the economy, wasn’t the SS TF created to carry us through for the short term until the economy picks up? Or Robert, are you and President Obama conceding the battle for job creation and have accepted a much lower plateau of the Civilian Non-Institutional population in the Civilian Labor Force. If so, this should be made very clear and I will suggest we have a far bigger problem to plan for as not amount of program cuts will match the race downward if people can not […]
The immediate problem and partial solution is to increase Participation Rate through Job Creation. It was the #1 problem in Massachusetts and still is the #1 problem today. Jobs . . .
Please . . . don’t demean those of us who work manually to maintain our heads above water and still have several degrees.
Ha . . . I grow bigger tomatoes
cultivate that skill. it may turn out to be more valuable than the degrees.
I think increasing the size of the workforce and thereby returning to pre-crisis consumption levels is the wrong approach. Naturally, there must be full-employment and increased Federal and Payroll Tax revenues, although, wealth redistribution via market forces, and government transfers, would allow increasing the withholding percentages while not affecting discretionary spending. From discretionary spending though savings rates need to rise as consumption diminishes. Unnecessary debt costs and wasteful consumption are inefficiencies that must be eliminated to pay for the rising health-care costs. The bottom 10 to 20% of the workforce needs to earn more so as to contribute more and that will not happen with the labor oversupply caused by immigration. Immigration needs to be curtailed just like it was in the 1930s and the farm subsidies need to be eliminated to create more opportunities in the rural areas. Kids coming out of high-school now have a choice of college, minimum wages, or the military. The unemployment rate for citizens without a high-school diploma is above 15% and who knows how many in this group never get counted? The labor market should ‘not’ depend on the wasteful spending of endless conflicts to hold down unemployment.
looks about right to me. but the key to rising health care costs is to stop them from rising. other countries have done it without loss of life.
one key to that might be to help give people some sales resistance to the latest medical miracle that will enable them to live forever. and that’s not gonna happen as long as they believe that “someone” else is gonna pay for it. i’m all for insurance, including government run insurance, as long as it is for medical care that is likely to help treat “serious” medical problems whose expense would otherwise pauperize the patient. this actually leaves out a lot of “elective” treatment. seems hard, but otherwise the expenses grow without limit.
I agree. And I did not intend to suggest that I believe that health-care costs are more of a concern in the future than they are now. I actually agree with Bruce and run that the rebate provision related to the MLR could be a good cost cutting measure. But the HC costs are already well beyond what will allow our exports to be competitive, especially when our other burden costs are considered. And it seems, as you suggested, that the US economy is rife with ‘incentive’ obstacles. Instead of considering higher immigration levels, as another example, we should be trying to find a way provide more opportunities for those who want out of our crime-infested slums. It is ludicrous to import workers while our inner cities are infested with young men who have nothing better to do than drive around ‘looking for trouble’ etc…
Bruce K–Persons who work here without legal permission must still pay taxes. They do this by obtaining a Taxpayer Identification Number from IRS and submitting their W-2. Fictious SSN’s don’t matter for tax purposes. You can get your refund just like everyone else. The FICA tax submitted under a bad SSN is treated just like any other contribution. They go into bonds with the rest of reported earnings.
IRS sends the tax information to SSA where the bad SSN kicks out of the computer recording process. It is recorded in a separate data base (the “suspense file”) under the name and bad SSN submitted but not posted to a permanent earnings record. These records are kept forever so that if the undocumented person ever becomes legal, s/he can get a valid SSN and we will post all the wages s/he can prove are his or hers to the new earnings record. It’s fairly easy to do this and SSA processes thousands of earnings corrections every year.
But, even if the person leaves the US and never returns, s/he can still file for SS on the basis of the earnings reported under the bad SSN. The worker goes to the US embassy, files for benefits with his/her proof of earnings (W-2’s, check stubs, etc) , SSA issues a non-work number for claims purposes only and pays the benefits.
Is there more tedious bureaucratic detail I could tell you? Yes, volumes. Bottom Line, don’t bet on undocumented people to pump up the TF. I spent years of my life taking SS retirement and DIB claims from people who worked with no Green Card. Bad SSN? No problem–just show me your pay stubs and we’re in business. Do some people lose credit for their work? Sure–no proof, no credit. But a substantial percentage keep their proofs and get their checks as long as they stay outside the US. In my experience, way more than half. Bob Reich knows a lot. But, the tedious nitty gritty of who gets checks is not his area. Aren’t you glad there’s a broken down old bureaucrat in the crowd to explain this fascinating stuff?? Nancy Ortiz
actually i am not glad to hear this.
are you saying that an illegal can work here, go back home and qualify for SS benefits… likely “enhanced” by being at the lower end of earnings? and likely to go a lot further south of the border than in a Florida retirement center?
i don’t know if that is “moral” or not. but i can see where the SS haters would make capital of it. it it was me (simon legree here) i’d restrict SS payments to those earned under an honest SS number, and i think i’d be tempted to figure benefits for non resident aliens under a different schedule.
on the other hand, i thought BK’s point was that with the illegals losing their jobs, the tax they paid was lost to the system and would account for some of the current cash flow deficit.
meanwhile the whole point about unemployed people, americans or immigrants, destroys Reich’s case for importing more workers to shore up SS.
noted and agreed.
I’d like to know if I leave the country, obtain citizenship elsewhere in lieu of my USof A investment, can I request my paid in amount to SS in one lump sum?
Putting more people back to work dosen’t necessarily imply a return to “the days of consumption” which existed pre-2001. It does mean more people are productive and as you state it adds to tax revenue.
Increased immigration is not what I have recommended; but, I would not curtail it either. This is a double edged sword for the US. One that has helped to keep Median Age lower and one which puts stress on the Labor Force. I will say that a large percentage of the legal immigrants are of a higher educational level. This would or should not impact the high school level unemployed we are experiencing today.
The bottom 10 to 20% of the population is not going to earn more without a > than high school education whether it be college or some type of vocational education. Those days of a high school education enabling one to a good income are long gone with the decline of manufacturing in the US. In the seventies all it took was a high school education and a good work ethic to insure a ticket into the middle class (“The Coming Collapse of The Middle Class” – Elizabeth Warren). Those days are long gone the same as labor intensive jobs.
Even with farm subsidies approximately one half of our food is imported now. I know it is popular to slam subsidies, especially those going to manufacturing farming; but, do you really want to add food to those commodities that the majority percenatge comes from overseas? Eliminating the subsidies will not create more labor intensive farm jobs either. I would be in favor of skewing subsidies towards smaller farms.
As far as conflicts, maybe Kerry’s faux pas while he was running for preisidency was close to being correct:
You know, education — if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. “If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
If you don’t get an education beyond high school, the opportunities are more limited today than they have ever been and even then there are no guarantees. This reality is very apparent today even moreso than when Kerry was running for the presidency.
Ray, I do not believe we are disagreeing on anything. I think we have different views.
no cultivation of that needed. When I vad a small 50 by 20 patch, I fed most of the neighborhood with cukes, tomatoes, etc.
like Run says: no.
IF you buy fire insurance and after twenty years haven’t had a fire and sell the house, you don’t get to get your premiums back. Social Security is insurance. I wish I could get people to understand this. It would end a lot of stupid arguments.
Meanwhile, as good a place to say it here as any. Rosser says “growing the economy… is the key to saving the saving the system.” Not true. The system doesn’t need saving, except from the people who want to fix it. Growing the economy might give you a slightly lower payroll tax rate. But not enough to lose sleep over.
wish i lived in your neighborhood.
I disagree on just about everything. First you are treating the laws of supply and demand as if they do not play a role in labor costs. History says otherwise, and, recent history suggests that labor intensive jobs were abundant enough to employ 12 million undocumented workers and tens of millions of legal citizens, even with the drop in manufacturing jobs. A common joke here in Texas goes: “what did Davy Crockett say that morning of the Alamo when when he looked out over the wall and saw so many Mexicans? “
“I didn’t know that we were pouring concrete today.”
The food that we are importing does in fact represent some of the opportunity that I referred to in my previous comment. It is imperative though to understand that the advantage of ag subsidies has to do with the risk that is inherent to large scale farming. There are 3 different forms of ag subsidies although they all essentially provide varying degrees of insurance that act as collateral. What this has done is to make farming a capital intensive venture with subsidized protections and this has driven up the cost of farmland while putting downward pressure on actual prices. Since you seem to appreciate demographic factors, the average age of farmers has been rising steadily for decades because starting small has been made very difficult (I don’t remember the actual age trend numbers). The higher land values combined with lower profits also incentivize the selling of family farms and of course this leads to less diversity in the types of crops being produced which is in part why imports have been increasing. The subsidies have in essence been used too narrowly due to political drag etc… Most importantly though, the gains from agriculture are benefiting bankers and investors too much, and farmers too little, while also failing to produce enough goods of the types that best serve the needs and health requirements of the population, and, the subsidies have distorted soil utilization factors and caused inefficiencies regarding fertilizer and water use as well.
Where I disagree with you the most though, respectfully, is on the subject regarding the importance of human capital values. I believe that the recent downturn speaks loud and clear to the importance of having the workforce in the correct balance. The housing bubble for instance says to me that our workforce has too many people employed in financial services, real estate etc. Plus, there is no evidence that an economy that is heavily dependent on service sector jobs is sustainable. And so, without supporting what could be a very lengthy claim, I will just say that much of what you have asserted is presumptuous. I was one of those people who did hard, physical labor in the 1970s, (hot-roofing, carpentry), and I am suspicious that growth from the top down has proved to be as functional as what existed in the 1950s, 60s, and the 70s. In short, labor values across the bottom third of our economy are the result of social engineering that was intended to solve the recruiting problems made evident during the Viet Nam era, and to employ the surplus of college grads created by the deferment debacle. But…
Computers and office machines should have driven down the demand for administrators etc. but the trend has in fact gone the opposite way. The percentage of the workforce in financial services for example has grown by 50%, from about 4% to 6%, since the 1950s, but if their compensation is removed from the equation their contribution to GDP has remained the same in percentage terms. The US is also falling back as compared to other nations regarding education and in many of the fields that rely heavily on education; So… I am well short of convinced that a less productive society is the answer… not to […]
The other reason for removing ag subsidies is about putting back the value that we usurped.Not to suggest that there might be some quick fix solution here but the undermining of American farmers was minor when comparred to the harm caused by subsidizing regarding Mexican farmers.
According to Tufts researcher Tim Wise:
Corn showed the highest losses [among subsidized U.S. crops entering the Mexican market]. Average dumping margins of 19% contributed to a 413% increase in U.S. exports and a 66% decline in real producer prices in Mexico from the early 1990s to 2005. The estimated cost to Mexican producers of dumping-level corn prices was $6.6 billion over the nine-year period, an average of $99 per hectare per year, or $38 per ton.
These conflict: “I agree immigration is a partial answer to the nation’s problem with an aging population…”
“Increased immigration is not what I have recommended…”
and that means leave immigration alone, don’t increase or decrease
But you are agreeing with someone who is advocating an increase in immigration (Reich). This is not of course a big deal but just something that gave me a little pause.
So change the paradigm.
You have to know I have discussed this attribute of Financial servies garnering 40% of all corporate profits pre-2008 http://www.bis.org/speeches/sp081119.htm point 5, and up from 10% since the eighties. Furthermore financial serves has 31% of GDP pre-2008, up from 23% in the nineties BIS http://www.bis.org/img/speeches/sp081119_g3.gif and here. Productivity Gains are skewed towards Capital as Spencer has reported here: http://www.angrybearblog.com/2009/10/labors-share.html I do not believe I advocated a service economy; but, that is where we are heading unless the paradigm is changed. Ever hear of Marquette National Bank versus 1st of Omaha of Minneapolis. SCOTUS struck down state Usury laws. Brennan expected Congress to act and so far they have not. If you wish to change the paradigm, this would be the perfect place to start.
If you wish to change the numbers of Mexicans illegally immigrating to the US (I discussed legal immigration), then change what is happening in Mexico. There is a need for reform there and to who the gains go to from the economy. It is pretty well known that most of the population lives in poverty and a few benefit from the nation’s economy.
As far as Education and mobility, you may wish to read Hertz, “Understanding Mobility in America.” http://www.americanprogress.org/kf/hertz_mobility_analysis.pdf Gini is .40-something in the US and England surpasses the US. Been a strong advocate of various forms of education, healthcare, etc.
The age of farmers is increasing globally and not just in the US. People do not want to work hard. http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/03/average_age_of_farmers_climbs.html This is not a characteristic of farmers exclusive to the US.
I never advocated a service industry for the US and I am known for arguing actual labor as being a small percentage of the cost of manufacturing (I consult in this arena). Whacking Labor today is silly and I have said this numerous times on Economist View, Naked Capitalism, Econospeak, Slate, and here.
Because you denied advocating a service-based economy twice, and because I did not intend to suggest that you did, I suspect that you took my use of the word: ‘presumptuous’ more personally than I meant for you to. I was mainly trying to say tersely that what you said about changing the “paradigm”. Anyway, you would probably understand if you could see how poorly I type.
The problem I have about what you said here is the part about farming and hard work. I grew up on what was once the largest farm/ranch operation in California (Irvine Corp.). I have also owned a small hay farm and my father still owns about 75 acres in Coastal hay. And I also had a close friend who had a large wheat farm in Kansas where I stayed for extended periods. And, as someone who has worked as a farrier, and in construction, and who also had a log-furniture business, I can tell you without any hesitation that modern farming has very little ‘hard’ work involved. I just spent 6 years living in an area where I was surrounded by farmers and I don’t remember ever seeing one sweat or getting dirty. These days they nearly all ‘fetch’ some ‘wets’ if they have anything involving any actual work, but that is not a frequent occurrence.
Your contention too about the rising ages of farmers being a global trend is seemingly ignoring the fact that ag subsidies are a global problem. All of the developed nations subsidize and in some Scandinavian countries they account for as much as 65% of total farm incomes. The sub-Sahara nations in Africa are those that have had the most damage done to their development due to subsidies making ag development less than cost-effective.
just as a matter of “logic” Run’s two propostions do not disagree with each other. you may feel that their implications conflict… but that is a different matter.
speaking as an old schoolteacher
i’d say that mass education is a delusion. sure i’d like to get those kids civilized and with skills that will get them good jobs and a meaningful life, but that’s not what’s happening. we are running kids through school like cattle through a… well, if not a slaughterhouse, at least a way station… it keeps them out of the workforce for a few years, gives them a chance to burn off most of the sex hormones that make them really stupid.. but essentially adds nothing to their level of culture or to their ability to, say, learn on the job. it’s just another subsidy to big business.
for example, time was when a computer programmer was a highly skilled person who got paid a pretty high wage. step in the jr colleges. turn out a lot of “computer science” graduates who can manipulate the canned programs for low wages and drag downt he cost of programmers generally.
Dale–I describe the law accurately. Remember that the US has an important financial relationship with Mexico. Also, consider NAFTA. SS benefits may be paid to US citizens, and others who are entitled to benefits outside the US. It’s always been true. Ineligibility to have an SSN is not ineligibility for benefits. Nutz? Well, we have all sorts of agreements called Totalization Agreements with other goverment permitting foreign nationals or US citizens to combine US and foreign earnings into one earnings record for retirement benefits purposes. Good international relations. You don’t want to hear about the one the Bush administration proposed negotiating with Mexico. Trust me. You don’t want to hear about it!
I suspect that most people assume that if it’s illegal for you to work here, you won’t get credit for your work and therefore, won’t get SS benefits. Well, remember what Felix Unger said about the word “Assume.” As to the idea that “Undocs”, as i call them, account for part of the dip in FICA revenues, that’s certainly true. But, the number of citizens and legally admitted immigrants who are unemployed is much greater. Also, no one knows how many Undocs were in the US and how many have left. Then, there’s the fact they also actively participate in the Black Economy. And, their higher rates of use of social and other services at the local level…Many factors to take into account.
I don’t think anyone can accurately estimate the effect of the outflux of immigrants on the SS TF or FiCA tax revenues. SSA doesn’t keep track and neither does IRS, as far as I know. So, Mr. Reich just offered an opinion on a subject about which he knows little. It ain’t against the law. In my opinion, though, that the Clinton administrations immigration policies certainly reflected this belief. Nancy Ortiz
The opening sentence of the post begins: ” Why more immigrants are an answer to …” ~Reich
run begins with:
I agree immigration is a partial answer to the nation’s problem with an aging population…”
Then run claimed: ”
“and that means leave immigration alone, don’t increase or decrease”
So what do mean by “logic” and “feel”? Are you suggesting that my emotions are playing tricks on my interptretive reading skills? Do I need a shrink? Can it wait until Monday? I doubt if shrinks work weekends.
I am sure you describe the law accurately. I was only saying that the bad guys will use that as another reason to hate SS. i expressed my own opinion about what the law “should” be, based on no knowledge whatsoever of the complexities or real justice involved.
In any case Reich’s call for more immigration to Save Social Security is nonsense. It’s just another way to lower the wages of the people, not quite as cruel as raising the retirement age, but done for the same reasons by the same interests.
i only meant that the two propositions are not inconsistent. run agrees immigration is a partial answer, but increased immigration is not what he would have recommended. you accused him of being inconsistent. i only noted that he was not. if you disagree with his conclusions or think that they “imply” (in a loose sense) something inconsistent, that’s another argument altogether.
if you can’t see that it can only mean one of two things: you can’t follow the logic. or “logic” doesn’t mean what people say it means. i lean toward the second.
this is a friendly letter, by the way. i don’t disagree with you on the substance. i just have a trick knee where claims of “logic” are made.
I think that you must be confused about the time-line or the context. The statements that conflict came in separate comments. How does one read this: “I agree immigration is a partial answer to the nation’s problem with an aging population…” from run’s initial comment and conclude that he does not agree with Reich when he clearly says that he does. You may need to read his first comment in its entirety and check the times of the other comments involved but his position as stated, is obviously inconsistent.
Not to demean run, but because you made this about “logic”, I want to explain a little further. When I wrote my first reply to run there were 3 ‘logical’ choices for me, his position could have been that he wanted more immigration, less immigration, or no change. But Reich’s position is for the option of ‘more’, so when run began with “I agree” how could that possibly fit with either of the other 2 choices? Would “I agree” that less immigration… make any sense? Or would “I agree” ‘that immigration levels should remain the same’… apply in any way, logically? Who would that have him agreeing with? Considering the positions of not just Reich but also Barkley’s, had run wanted to take the ‘no change’ positon his statement should read something like: ‘I “disagree” that immigration levels need to rise but I don’t think they need to change either’… or something to that effect. Or, “and that means leave immigration alone, don’t increase or decrease” as he said later. But that was after I had based my response to him on what was in fact the only ‘logical’ conclusion that I could have made based on the choices given.
Perhaps you should put some ice on that “trick knee”.
looks iike you have a trick knee of your own. i’ll climb down a bit. without doing a thorough analysis of run and reich i could not say that “the implications” you cite are valid or not. all i said was that the two propositions you quoted side by side were not in themselves logically inconsistent. the big problem with “logic” is that most people run crazy with “obvious” implications. here is one i find funny:
in that famous “logic 101” (modelled after the even more famous “econ 101” practically the first thing they tell you is
All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore Socrates is mortal.
But, but, but, we all know that Socrates is immortal.
Now logicians are smart, and I am sure someone else has pointed this out, and they even have a name for it. But they never tell the undergraduates.
This may seem to be too much about too little– but I find this subject more interesting than any of the current news so here I am. The truth is you and run are each guilty of tiny intellectual sins, and, you each are allowing pride to deprive you of a little ‘truth’. Here is the statement that is depriniving ‘you’ (I have covered run’s ‘sin’)… of a tiny taste of freedom:
“Run’s two propostions do not disagree with each other”, but… had you said: ‘Run’s two propositions do not disagree with eachother if isolated from the context from which they were applied’; then this:
“just as a matter of “logic” Run’s two propostions do not disagree with each other”… consequently, would have been an accurate statement.
What you seem to be missing here is that I addressed my ‘conflict’ remark to run, directly, someone who knew the context of the material in question. So it was not incumbent upon me to explain in any more detail than what I did. So when you made your first incursion into the mix it was understandable that you were wrong in your initial assertion, but you ‘were’ wrong. And I explained why and the validity of my explanations is inecapable. But… then you persisted in what was essentially a vain effort to avoid admitting that you had been wrong. Not to suggest that I care all that much… but, ‘truth’ not only sets one free, it also of course allows us to learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them. And we all make mistakes, especially small, subtle ones, but small mistakes can sometimes teach large lessons. And it seems, based on the haughty and evasive claims of superior understanding that eminate from your comments, that these are lessons which you need to learn. Claiming for example to be privy to knowlede (“But they never tell the undergraduates”) after establishing that the depth of your understanding had already enabled you to make judgments “without doing a thorough analysis of run and reich i could not say that “the implications…”, as a way to suggest that you are not only free of any mistakes regarding this conversation, but also on the high ground philosophically, well… you are deceiving yourself while trying to con me.
Anyway, I am not as emotional about all of this as it might seem. Had you, or had run, simply admitted anywhere along the way that each of you could have chosen your words more carefully, as opposed to adding to the prideful subterfuge, we would not have had what turned out to be an interesting conversation. A conversation that could in fact be of some benefit to all concerned?